There are various periodicals we lawyers read to keep up with not only what is happening system-wide, but also what is up with the rest of the world which we might be missing due to the myopia of our work. One which I quote from often (and thankfully returns the favor from time to time) is the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly . Another is the American Bar Association Journal . The latter has given me the idea for today’s blog.
According to the Journal, “Pokemon characters are on the loose, and it’s your job to catch and collect them.”
I suppose to those “in the know” that sounds fun. While I don’t know how this works in the “augmented reality” of Pokemon, I do know that not everything that is fun in this world is safe if you would like to keep living in relative freedom.
We are talking about the new “Pokemon Go” app, which uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where you are and make Pokemon characters appear on your phone screens. “The Pokemon characters may be in public places such as parks, beaches and even bathrooms, and players have to go to the locations to find them.”
Sounds safe enough, right?
Well, maybe not so much.
Attorney Sam’s Take On When “Augmented Reality” Smacks Head-First Into Actual Reality
There are a number of issues raised by the article which relate to property and civil law suggesting problems. But, here, we are concerned with criminal law.
One example, mentioned in the article, was posed by Miami Herald court reporter David Ovalle who tweeted. “I’m told there are Pokemons in the courthouse hallways…I have no idea what that means, but they better not approach the jurors.”
There are a few other examples that you may wish to consider, especially since we know that not only kids under the age of 18 or even 35 play these games.
A few come to mind right away…
Brighton Police Officer Polly pulls over Harry Hunter on Commmonwealth Avenue. Officer Polly noticed that Harry’s car was stopping, starting and swerving across the Avenue. The explanation? “I can see that there is a Pokemon character or two around here, but cannot quite locate them. I keep checking my phone, but it is not clear…! Hey! At least I was not texting…”
Potential Charges, driving while distracted, operating to endanger, etc. Hopefully nobody got in the car’s way while the hunt was on. Then the charges could be much more serious.
Plymouth Detective David is sent over to a store front where there has been no business for many weeks. Folks are reported going in and out of the property…usually staying five minutes or less. Clear indication of drug activity. Detective David stops Nellie Notuser and demands that she empty her pockets. She tries to show the Detective her phone to explain that she is only hunting Pokemon characters.
Hopefully, he sill merely think she is only videotaping him and only arrest her for trespass, and potential drug trafficking instead of thinking it is a weapon.
Police cruisers are sent to respond to s disturbance outside Cathy’s Cove in Rockport. Officers arrive to find a bunch of kids and “playful adults” yelling at, pushing and tripping each other. Upon further investigation, the officers learn that the group is comprised of “Pokemon Go” enthusiasts and others who do not know about the game but were viewed by the enthusiasts as competition.
What the enthusiasts call “good natured fun”, the others call “assault and battery”, “threats” and “harassment“.
There is no “Pokemon Defense” to these charges. The Commonwealth will merely have to prove that any touching was “offensive” to the receivers and that they were put in fear by the threats.
Of course, there are also the other, perhaps more obvious, dangers to consider.
For example, walking with your nose buried in your smart phone is not terribly smart…the chances of falling, getting run over or simply falling down a hole of some kind abounds. Further, the news says that there are those predatory-types who are using the app to lure people to locations to rob or assault them. There are also those who fear that pedophiles will use the app to lure children.
“Come in, little one. Pikachu is right inside and was just asking for you…!”
Meanwhile, it is pretty hot outside to be searching for augmented reality characters in my opinion. Better to stay put in actual reality…by water or air conditioning!
Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!